September 2013

Fleece, sweater, scarf mornings. Tank top rides home at dusk. Geese calling out overhead heard through the roof. Gaggle of fresh minted UCSC students meandering the river levee, excited, toward the sunset. Swimmers at the beach. Snow on the mountain. Dark morning runs, and, past the early dusk, candles.


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It all started with me wanting to pull my weight, literally, with a new group of backpacking friends. Invited to a challenging 7 day, 75 mile, 18000′ elevation gain trip that traverses the Sierra Nevada in its highest widest part, I trained hard spring and summer. Two of the ladies on the hike were having birthdays, and while I normally don’t pack in anything extra, I agreed with others to bring in some surprise beer for them to celebrate. I love how the story unfolded, so this is a special blog excerpt about that part of my High Sierra Summer 2013 trip.

It all started at the local Whole Foods. I’d dated a beer officionado for a few short weeks this summer and one of the things I learned was that the beer selection at Whole Paycheck rocked. I walked in and asked the gent stocking the cooler for his favorite IPA in a can. He turned, walked past me without hesitating and palmed a pretty rusty orange colored box. “This is my favorite IPA in OR out of a can” he said, handing it to me with a flourish and smile. I grinned back, “no way!”: the logo is a backpacking tent, and the beer is called Wyld (by Uinta Brewing Co out of Salt Lake City). It could NOT be more perfect for my backpack birthday mission and I told him so.

It looked good in my bike basket all the way home. I tucked two cans in amidst my water filter, dehydrated food and sleeping gear and I managed to keep it hidden most of the trip. I tried not to think about it as we sweated our asses off climbing up to Precipice Lake, our most stunning campsite of the trip at 10,400 feet.

We chilled the beer in the lake while we ate dinner. At sunset we popped the tops to enjoy them while we waited for the Perseid meteor shower show to begin. Sarah and Paige were stoked and touched that we carried the extra weight that even they – major beer fans themselves – had decided not to pack in.

Up in the backcountry its the simple things, and even to me who’d choose whiskey-over-beer any day, that cold Wyld IPA tasted fantastic. Thank goodness the birthday girls were good sharers!

(Afterword: With some other backpacking friends Paige attended CanFest in Reno in the weeks following our trip and was able to tell this story in person directly to the folks at the Uinta booth. Fun!)